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Bay City set to receive funding for environmental clean up

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Bay City Economic Development Department Marketing Manager Sherri Thurston, says the $1 million funding will bring new development to the city.

BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - Bay City is set to receive $1 million in federal money for environmental clean up in parts of the city, including the Midland Street Business District.

"This gets environmental clean up done in our community, so it's a win-win," said Bay City's Economic Development manager Shelli Thurston. "And we get to see new developments happen in our area."

Officials say the money will help to pave the way for new economic development.

Bay City Economic Development Marketing Manager Shelli Thurston said the goal is to bring in new business to the old historic business district on Midland Street. But with the age of the buildings there comes several issues that can affect development.

"There's a lot of history here and we want to take care of it. But back in the day they didn't construct with long-term environmental impacts in mind," said Thurston. "So, doing development there has its own set of challenges and a lot of times that can mean environmental costs."

Thurston said the EPA's $1 million revolving loan grant will tackle environmental issues, such as asbestos remediation, lead based paint abatement and even soil remediation.

"Historic buildings can present an extra special challenge, and when we have an entire district full of them this can make developers be a little bit nervous about developing in these sorts of areas," she said. "But we want to help with that and revitalize the area and see excitement come back to our district."

Thurston said these low-interest loans will not just be a one-and-done funding pot. Because it is a revolving loan fund, the money will stay alive for a long period of time, which she said makes the funding extra special.

"This gives us another tool in our toolbox here in the Bay City Economic Development Department to help our developers to see their projects become successful by offering these low interest rate loans to help with their environmental clean up," said Thurston.

The focus will be on redevelopment in the Midland Street Business District and targeted properties on Bay City's east side, including the former Surath Scrap Yard and former Dow Chemical Site on North Water Street.

Thurston said this is the first time in over a decade since the city has received EPA Brownfield funding even after applying each year.

"So to finally be awarded and to be awarded an amount of $1 million is substantial and can really alter the landscape," she said. "And the timing is just so synergistic because the costs for development are increasing so much and developers are starting to get so conservative and reluctant to develop, so this comes at a time where we can provide an extra tool."

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